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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict laburke's Avatar
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    Client wants someone else to optimize site

    I did a web site for a client last year. Today I get an e-mail that they want me to send files or provide FTP access to another designer/coder so they can optimize the site for certain keywords. I don't know if he can do much with it that I haven't, but since I'm more a designer than a coder, I'm willing to admit he probably could.

    My problem is, I don't want to be a doormat, but on the other hand, this client and I have had a good relationship and I don't want to create bad feelings. Do you have any suggestions on how I could handle this? I don't have an overwhelming desire to keep this client, because a couple of other things they've done have made me a little suspicious of their motives, but I hate to set the precedent that I just hand over my work without question to whoever asks.

    I can see I will have to add something to my contract in case this happens in the future.

    Input?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    It's a tricky situation if you don't have anything in the contract to your benefit. This time I'd sent the client their FTP details along with a disclaimer to say you are no longer responsible for their site, and if they come back to you in the event of anything "breaking" after a 3rd party person has changed any file, then you will charge to rectify mistakes. You get the idea!

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict jessebhunt's Avatar
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    Have you done everything that you know how to make the site perform well in the search engines? Is it doing well in the search engines? Who owns the website, you or the client?

    If you think you could do more to optimize the website, perhaps you should suggest that the client allow you to do the optimization. If they're happy with your previous work, I don't see any reason why they wouldn't let you handle the optimization.

    If you've done all you know how, the client owns the site, and it isn't ranking well, perhaps it is in the client's best interest to have someone else do the SEO. If this is the case, you should step out of the way and let the client do what's best.
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  4. #4
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    Bluedreamer said it all. I agree tell them if they need any work on site to fix something you will charge them.

  5. #5
    I hate Spammers mobyme's Avatar
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    It's bound to happen especially with so many companies out there touting their SEO prowess. I think it is in order to ask your client why they felt compelled to entrust this work to another company. You would have thought it was something that they would at least have discussed with you and perhaps it is a service you should consider providing for the future by outsourcing. It is a bit of a fait accomplis and there is little to do accept comply with your clients wishes. I think bluedreamer's idea of sending a disclaimer is an excellent one and may make them think twice; if it doesn't I think your instincts about their ulterior motives should be assumed to be right.
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  6. #6
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    I'm just curious on your situation here.

    Are you in charge of the client's hosting?
    How frequent is your communication with the client?
    Is the client under contract with you in regards to maintenance?

    If so, then you can tell the client to have the SEO send the updates to you and count it against the client's maintenance.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Addict laburke's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your excellent input. Yes, I'm in charge of the client's hosting, and they did not choose to buy the copyright. They are not under contract to have me do the maintenance, but if they choose to have me do so, my fee is clearly stated in the contract, along with a clause that I will charge for any repairs needed if they try to do updates themself.

    It doesn't rank well for the keywords they want. They never told me what their goals were in that regard and what keywords were important to them, but that's my failing as their designer that I didn't specifically ask. I'm in contact with them every couple months or so, not always about this site.

    I'm leaning towards turning over the FTP info with the disclaimer mentioned in above posts. And I'll be prepared for this next time, for sure.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by laburke View Post
    It doesn't rank well for the keywords they want. They never told me what their goals were in that regard and what keywords were important to them, but that's my failing as their designer that I didn't specifically ask. I'm in contact with them every couple months or so, not always about this site.
    Honestly, I believe that you did not fail as a designer. SEO is a completely different service. What you should try to do in the future, if possible, is to secure an upsale of maintenance to your new clients. That way you are still in communication with your client and if this situation arises in the future, the SEO that your client hired will have to go through you first.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Evangelist ramone_johnny's Avatar
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    Once your responsibilities are completed and you have carried out the tasks initially requested, I believe the client is well within his/her rights to do as they please with the site. They OWN it, you simply MANAGE it.

    However in saying this, I understand your concerns about having an additional party involved.

    I know you already have this but, I address this very issue within one of my contracts that reads as follows.

    "26.THIRD PARTY OR CLIENT PAGE MODIFICATION
    Some Clients will desire to independently edit or update their web pages after completion of the site as a way to control costs and avoid the expense of a Maintenance Agreement. This is always an option for Clients of the Developer. If the Client desires this capability, it must be made known to the Developer.
    Note however, that if this option is desired and the Client or an agent of the Client other than the Developer attempts to update the web site and damages the design or impairs the ability for the web pages to display or function properly, time to repair the web pages will be assessed at an hourly rate of <insert your hourly rate here>. There is a one hour minimum. In this regard, Clients are encouraged to seek assistance from the Developer before commencing any work independently."

    As for handing over technical specifications to the client, this should have been done upon completion of the project.


    RJ

  10. #10
    SitePoint Addict laburke's Avatar
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    Thank you for your further suggestions. I appreciate that contract wording and will adapt it to my needs.
    As for handing over technical specifications to the client, this should have been done upon completion of the project.
    When you say "technical specifications" are you talking about the username and password to access their site on the server?

  11. #11
    SitePoint Evangelist ramone_johnny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laburke View Post
    Thank you for your further suggestions. I appreciate that contract wording and will adapt it to my needs.

    When you say "technical specifications" are you talking about the username and password to access their site on the server?
    Im talking about all the necessary information required to manage, and administer the website incase you get hit by a bus. No point having it stashed in the bottom drawer of your desk in your office where it cant be found.

    Information such as ...

    File, folder structure, site topology
    Hosting plan information
    Domain name management information
    Password inventory

    ....and so on

    When the job is done, the information should be handed over to the client. This then gives them the information they require to operate the site. You would *hope* that they would continue to use your services, but what if they dont want to? What if they wish to use someone else? At least by providing this information they can do as they please. As Ive said before, its a nuisance when you have to *try* and get this type of information from a previous developer when being asked to take over in a web project.

    RJ

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bigalreturns's Avatar
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    I agree with the charge for repair policy.
    Does the site use any server-side coding? Do you own the rights to it or does the client?
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Addict laburke's Avatar
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    Im talking about all the necessary information required to manage, and administer the website incase you get hit by a bus.
    It's funny you say that because when I used to work at a newspaper, we used to always tell each other that. "Here's what's happening with *this* and *that*, in case I get hit by a bus."

    Thanks for your post. Thanks to bigalreturns, too. I'm not sure what server-side coding is, though, hate to say.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Evangelist ramone_johnny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laburke View Post
    I'm not sure what server-side coding is, though, hate to say.
    Youre joking right?

    RJ

  15. #15
    SitePoint Member bankner's Avatar
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    SEO Master

    What good is it to have a web site that doesn't receive any traffic. Your client wants not only a great website but one that receives traffic. When you can't provide the complete picture, you get upset when he looks some where else????????? I don't know much about coding but I do know SEO is easy. If you can learn coding, I believe you can learn SEO and provide your clients with a complete website. Why not complete the project and do the entire package. If you cant, wont or don't want to then don't be upset when they look elsewhere.
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Enthusiast jt_va's Avatar
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    Do what your client wants and stop holding their web files hostage.

  17. #17
    PHP/Rails Developer Czaries's Avatar
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    I would say just hand it over. I give FTP access to all my clients immediately when they ask, without question. It's THEIR website. They paid for it, and they are the owner of it, not you.

    In your case, I would say that you should do a full backup of the website and all files and keep it on hand just in case something should go wrong at some point, so you can restore it if needed.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laburke View Post
    I'm not sure what server-side coding is, though, hate to say.
    Quote Originally Posted by ramone_johnny View Post
    Youre joking right?

    RJ
    Obviously not. We have to start somewhere.

    Don't mind him laburke, along with a bit of success came a bit of a superiority complex.

    Server side coding is responsible for the brains of a website. Without it, you would have only static pages (with exception to Javascript, which is client side but generally less sophisticated).
    Webmail, search engines and forums like this one all utilise server side coding.

    There are two main "brands" of server side coding; ASP and PHP. The forums have everything from the basic tasks to the most complex solutions covered for both flavours.

    The vast majority of small business websites don't need server side coding, so you can get away with not knowing it, atleast for the moment. However, if you want to get serious you will devote some serious time to learn either ASP or PHP.

    Back to the topic at hand; As others have said, it is their website so they should have the right to do with it what they please. My only concern would be that they could make the website less than attractive, but if it's only SEO work, that is unlikely.

    This hasn't happened to me so far, but I can see it coming. In cases whereby the client or a new developer either makes the code non-compliant or makes it's appearance less than tasteful, I will, among other things, be pulling it from my portfolio and probably also be removing my name from the footer.
    ride it like it's stolen

  19. #19
    SitePoint Evangelist ramone_johnny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raymo View Post
    Obviously not. We have to start somewhere
    I guess Im just used to working in either ASP or .NET. No offence intended.

    RJ

  20. #20
    SitePoint Addict laburke's Avatar
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    Youre joking right?
    Nope, not joking. I live in an extremely rural area, where I'm the only person in a town of less than 1,000 people creating web sites as a business. Got into it because people were asking me to do sites for them, knowing I knew more than they did about the web, which obviously isn't saying much. I never claimed to be an expert. I'm not in it to compete with the big boys, rather just to make a living.
    What good is it to have a web site that doesn't receive any traffic. Your client wants not only a great website but one that receives traffic. When you can't provide the complete picture, you get upset when he looks some where else?????????
    Not upset at all. I just asked for some input on how to handle it. I seem to recall mentioning in my original post that I'm willing to admit this other guy could probably do a better job at SEO. I simply hadn't run into this situation before and wondered how others handle it.
    Do what your client wants and stop holding their web files hostage.
    I'm not holding anything hostage. I gave them the information. Your comment reveals you didn't bother to read the thread before posting. Are you just working on your post count, or what?
    I would say just hand it over. I give FTP access to all my clients immediately when they ask, without question. It's THEIR website. They paid for it, and they are the owner of it, not you.

    In your case, I would say that you should do a full backup of the website and all files and keep it on hand just in case something should go wrong at some point, so you can restore it if needed.
    Thank you for your suggestions, I appreciate it.

    Special thanks to raymo for the helpful explanation! I have used some PHP but didn't know the all-encompassing term of server-side coding. I'm self taught so I don't know or use all the correct terminology. Thank you very much for your reply.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Zealot raymo's Avatar
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    Edit: hmm this went to the wrong place, my bad.
    ride it like it's stolen


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